Designer Profile: Of Mercer

by Jessica Braun Gervais | September 17th, 2014   

When it comes to the professional workforce, it’s no secret that women are faced with challenges; but putting together a wardrobe that is appropriate, stylish and affordable should not be one of those stresses.  Dorie Smith and Emelyn Northway, co-founders of Of Mercer, couldn’t agree more, which is why they have developed a clothing line that offers trendy options that are both office-appropriate and affordable.

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TWW member Emma Klug wearing the Ludlow Dress

Northway and Smith met at Wharton Business School, bonding over their shared dilemma in finding stylish and appropriate work wear that didn’t cost a fortune.  These initial points started the basis and helped launched the idea for Of Mercer.

The brand is focused around three main points: style, affordability, and appropriateness for the office.  In order to keep items at a low cost, Of Mercer cuts out retailers and sells directly to their consumers through their website, pop-up shops and trunks shows.  All dresses are offered for under $250, in comparison to dresses of similar quality and style which can cost an upward of $500.  As for style and appropriateness Smith and Northway use their own taste and experiences, along with the professional expertise of their designer, to create looks that are both fashionable and acceptable in the work place.

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TWW members Jordan Zeman wearing the Fifth Avenue Dress and Jessica Braun Gervais in the Thompson Dress

But Of Mercer isn’t just about looking good and professional. It’s also about practicality.  “One of the things we want to make sure we are doing is selling clothes that women can wear right now,” says Smith.  ”If you order a dress and get it in three days, you can put it on right out of the box, not like what retailers do where it’s 95 degrees outside and [they're] selling chunky sweaters.”

Of Mercer releases their new lines in collections, but unlike traditional collections that have designs designated to a specific season, Of Mercer prefers to release items that can be worn over a course of seasons, such as the Bowery Dress, which is described on the company’s website to “totally help you nail the summer to fall transition”.  Releasing items in this way keeps them relevant for consumers who are looking for something to wear “right now”.

The ladies of Of Mercer also work to make sure their options reach a wide range of women.  “Everything is very tailored and can fit an array of body types with a variety of styles for a range of dress codes and occasions,” says Northway. “We want to cater to everyone.”

In order to showcase Northway’s point, along with styling options of these dresses, I, along with two other members of The Working Wardrobe team, put together some looks of our own.

Emma chose to style the Ludlow Dress, a black fit-and-flare piece with a pleated skirt and faux leather accents.  To keep this modern looking professional, Emma paired the dress with a gray blazer jacket and black jeweled flats.  To top of the look and add some flare, Emma added a long gold statement necklace and brushed blue and black bag – both from Henri Bendel.

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Jordan decided to create a more classic office look with the Fifth Avenue Dress. In order to add another layer of dimension to the dress, she wore a long black sleeveless overcoat. To complete the look, Jordan put on a chunky yellow statement necklace, black pumps and a Kate Spade laptop bag.

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As for me, I decided to go for a simplistic yet modern look with the Thompson Dress. The tailored dress had a beautiful shape and the gold zippers added a hint of sass, which I played off of by adding a simple gold cuff and gold necklace.  I also paired the dress with black tights and pumps to keep the outfit looking polished.

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The general consensus among The Working Wardrobe team was that the dresses were cute, comfortable, and we could see ourselves wearing them in a professional setting. I tried on all three of the dresses  in the photos above and found that each one was perfectly tailored in a way that showed off my figure while still looking professional. Personally I loved the Ludlow Dress as it was something I felt I could wear both night and day, and for me, versatility is a major plus!

Co-Founders of Of Mercer also shared their personal favorites.  For Smith, it’s the Riverside Dress, which she says “looks adorable with tights and a blazer”, making it the perfect option as autumn rolls in, while Northway prefers the comfort of the fit-and-flare neoprene Carnegie Dress, saying she could “wear neoprene all day.”

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So what’s next for the ladies of Of Mercer? Smith and Northway plan on expanding their line and are currently in the product development stages to include more blouses, skirts, knit wear and pants in order to appeal to even more consumers and dress codes.

Have thoughts, questions, concerns or ideas on Of Mercer? Smith and Northway would love to hear from you! Send them an email or comment below!